Monday, October 6, 2008

From outside the fence

Sunday the kids were up early so we jumped up, got dressed and headed out to our old neighborhood to hit Yates Cider Mill. 2 dozen donuts, some fudge and a gallon of cider later the Pongratz Media Crew was off to Stony Creek to cover the Cycle Cross race held by Paint Creek and Tailwinds.

Okay, down to the good stuff. Upon entering the race paddock we imediately spotted the yellow colors of Team Sub Team Kissel was there in full force to take on the sand filled course. We stopped in to see when they would be racing and moved on so they could go warm up. Next we rolled up on the Red Colors of Team Sandbag. And low and behold there was Masher Media Mike laying his trip wires and camera onto a bike to shoot the race. We ran down John "Like my Shoes?" Osgood to wish him luck and let him know we'd be yelling for him as well. Tried to find Jason "The Ox" Melocosky of RBS but didn't see him until he lined up and didn't want to bother him.

The gun went off and the leaves started to rustle. The pack of C-Class 39 and under riders blew by us like a cool fall breeze. John was in the top 10 and Jason was about mid pack playing Mr Conservative. The next wave of riders were the C-Class 40 and over and Russ was all mixed up in that. He shot by us and rolled himself into a comfortable 5th going off the pavement and onto the course. Next wave was Leila, Dylan and Zoe and their competiton.......the breeze finally calmed and the leaves settled down after all the waves whipped by. Man was it exciting to watch. You could see 85% of the course from where we were standing so the kids were really into it. Plus we got to see all the people we know a few times as they hit all the switchbacks.

I could go on and on......being a XC racer I know what it is like to suffer but this was a different pain I was seeing. Racers were in the red the entire time. No place or time to rest and catch your breath. You slow down to rest and the person behind you will fly right by. You spend the entire race attacking the people in front. And if you are the race leader you spend all your time keeping the hunters at bay.

The 39 and under class came down to a sprint finsih. The experinced racer, Jason Melocosky from RBS, showed the new kid from Team Sandbag how to win a sprint and look good for the camera at the same time. I swear his crank arms were bending as he plowed thru the finishing stretch. During the after race interview he praised racing legend John Osgood from Team Sandbag for helping him acheive his first win. He said even tho he practiced nothing John told him to do it was still the idea of practicing it that helped him thru his race. John Osgood, who finished a solid 4th, was caught later stating, "You know, I taught him everything he knows.....and I beat at Iceman last year by 8 minutes" while in his race trailer making what appearded to be a voodoo doll with a mini RBS jersey on it.'s own Russ Kissel managed to endure the suffering and climbed two more spots to finish 3rd. Later in the day he tried his hand again in the Master's division. He took 11th there in a much more seasoned field against some serious riders.

Zoe crashed during her warm up loops but still raced after some butterfly bandaging by the team medic (mom). She was taken to the hospital later to have it sealed up by a doctor and I we hear she is gdoing good. Bloodied and battered she still finished 2nd in Junior Cat 4 and 1st in female. Brother Dylan took 3rd in Junior Cat 4 and second in male. Way to go guys. It's riders like them who are the future of our team!

Word in the paddock is that Leila was happy she kept the bike upright the entire race. She was all smiles tho and had a great time. In fact one of our hired spy cameras shot this photo of her, she makes it look easy doesn't she?

In the end it was a great event and my family and I were happy to be able to take part from the side lines. In fact that's Ashton in the red hooded sweat shirt in Leila's picture. Hopefully we'll be able to send the Media crew out to cover another CX event this season.

Side bar - for those who on't know we had a rider go down in Brighton over the weekend. Heather "Hollywood" Patterson took a fall hard enough to fracture her shoulder. We are still waiting to see xrays and get the full story. I hear she is supose to have a press onference soon to update the media of her condition.

So as always, check back to see what we'll over next. You never know where the Yellow will go.

(And keep your eyes on that new kid over there at Team Sandbag. Jason is no slouch and that young guy gave him a run for his money. They may be at the start of someone fast.)


Tuesday, September 23, 2008

The Beginning of the End

As the light of the day grows shorter the weather gets cooler and the best time of the year to ride is here. The race season is almost over and a lot of people switch to rec riding so they can hit the trails they didn't have time to go to during the season. Others start to dab in their off season cross training sports, watching football. Some try brand new sports and others are just focused on the Iceman...more later on the Iceman. But, it is only the middle of September and there are races thru the beginning of November so the team is still active.

Where to begin. The events covered by Team were as follows: The Kenetic systems/Tailwind UCI two day Cycle Cross event at Springfield Oaks, the CPS XC Race at Addison Oaks and the Triple Trail Challenge held at Poto. I guess we'll start off with the CX racing....Sorry that I will have to be brief on all so I can cover everything that happened this weekend.

For those who don't know what Cycle Cross is I'll post some links in the next day or two to some pictures. In the mean time: Captain Terror, Hollywood and Team sub team, Team Kissel, all made the trip to Springfield Oaks for the teams first run at Cycle Cross racing. The good news is everyone survived and seemed to enjoy it. Russ, Lila, Zoe, Dylan, Hollywood and Terror all put out their best efforts in thier respective classes. It was a new sport to the team so we are proud of them for going and giving it a shot. It's quite a demanding race. It is sort of like a TT because your heart rate is redlined the entire time. There is zero time to spin and rest your legs. You are constantly suffering, jumping off your bike to run up a hill or over barriers....heck, here's some links to look at:

It sounds like Team will become a fixture on the CX circut in the future....may even see me out there next year. Sunday Team Kissel went back for more as Heather had plans Sunday and Gerry was to report to Addison for the CPS XC.

Sunday Jeff, Brian and Terror made it up to Addison for some points chasing in the CPS standings. Jeff, our Endurance Enthusiast, opted to race both geared and single speed. But he did both races on his SS! Why, because he is Jeff and he does these things. Anyhow, Jeff pulled a solid 3rd out of 16 or 17 in his geared class and 7th in his SS class. He raced over 52 miles on that SS Sunday. Your are crazy man! Gerry and Brain pulled some solid laps in their classes as well. Gerry said Saturday's CX race didn't hurt him much in Sunday's race but fresh legs would have definitely helped. He had no regrets tho because he enjoyed his first CX event and plans to go back for more. Brian, well, he was a little dehydrated come Sunday morning. He had prior commitments Saturday night but wanted to go to Addison because he had never raced there. He finished and that's all we ask.

As for me, I went to the Triple Trail Challnge Saturday morning at Poto. Got there early and starte off close to 8am. It was an organized fun ride not a race but I had always wanted to do it. In the end I did 45 miles in just over 3 hours and had a great time. Met a few nice people along the route as well. this ride was a series of 3 trails connected together by some fire roads and dirt roads. Thanks to Brian again for the deal on the spare wheelset. Felt great to be back on the trail.

With only a handful of organized events left I'll cover what I can. Not sure of the team's fall race schedule since this weekend's race at Pando is the last XC series of 2008. Come back and check for more CX coverage and Jeff's trip up noth in November to race the annual Iceman.

Keep your head up and get ready to start layering up......the nights are getting colder already.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

New Tracks for the Tank

After a few days of cooling off about wrecking my rear wheel on the pavement of all places I am better now. I did some discount shopping on the clearance rack at Etheric North (Brian's basement) and walked away with a used set of 717's laced to XT hubs. Attached was an used XT cassette and an XT rotor on the rear wheel and Avid on the front. And, not done yet, a set of Kenda Nevegals set up with Stans rim strips and already running tubeless. Yep, a complete wheelset and I didn't have to spin a single wrench. Brian has 3 bikes and 4 sets of wheels. He said he really didn't need them anymore. I was just going to borrow them but then thought it'd be nice to have another set laying around for times like this week.

So while I sit and figure out what to do with my other wheelset I have these to roll around on for the rest of the season. I am at peace once again.

I did make a change a couple weeks ago I never mentioned. I sold my XTR crankset/bb and bought a Truvativ Stylo 1.1 to put on the Kona. It looks nice, all black with a touch of chrome, and now I have Truvativ SS cranks on both my mtbs so I can swap rings when needed.

The Triple Trail Challenge is going on this weekend, rescheduled due to weather. I hope to make it out there even if I am the only one.

As far as the racing scene goes Russ along with his family and Heather and Gerry plan to do their first CX event this Saturday. Jeff and Brian will be at Addsion Sunday for another XC race. Good luck to all and I hope to hear good news Monday morning.

Monday, September 15, 2008


Every where we go we see signs. STOP. ONE WAY. NO LEFT TURN. NO TURN ON RED. These are the more common ones. Well today I saw a sign of something different. If you read my last post and did some simple math you'd know it has been almost 6 weeks since I have been on a trail. Part due to time and part due to lack of a complete wheelset.

Well I got my wheelset back from Gerry a week and a half ago. All was good. I was all ready for the Triple Trail Challenge on Sept 13th. Well as the week went on the forecast got worse ad they eventually had to reschedule the event. Good thing to. 6" of rain in two days. No problem tho, the reschedule date was going to be Sept 20th. I can do this. Well then I had this idea that this week I would drive into work today and then ride my bike home. Then tomorrow morning I would get up and ride into work adn then drive home.

I got it all together....clothes at work for tomorrow in my car. A bag with a towel and all that jazz for showering. I even brought extra food to leave at work so I could pack light. I was all set. So at about 3:15 this afternoon I set out for my ride home. Things were great. I was back on my race bike even tho it was on pavement. I was roaring East bound on 9 Mile making my way home, a 30 mile ride I figure I could make in 1:45:00. I had made it to work on my road bike in an hour and a half before in the morning.

So there I was crossing city after city. Novi, gone. Farmington, behind me. Southfield, man am I making good time. Heck I am almost to Ferndale already and only been riding for 37 minutes. Then I hit the construction zone. Better play it safe and stay on the sidewalks. Well the sidewalks were missing at each intersection so I had to do some fancy riding here and there. No problem, I have seen a lot worse on the trails. Well about a mile from Ferndale I was outof sidewalk and I made the small drop to the sand. Thud! PSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSTTTTTTTT! Oh sh!t! I hopped off the bike and rolled the wheel around to get my Stans to seal it up. No good, tire went dead fast. It's then that I saw this:

and this:

Crap....Still 17 miles from home. So I unclip the pack and get my spare tube. Even tho I have Stans ZTR Olympic wheels I carry a tube in case. Well I got the tube in and guess what? Yep, it has a pinhole. Muther f@#$%^&*! So now my houseis 17 miles one way and my car is 13 miles the other way. I opt to walk East toward home and got my cell phone out. First person to call is Mr Wizzard knowing he is the #1 guy to find me a local bike shop fast. Problem was he was in his car. He said he'd call me back asap with an answer. In the mean time I called Jeff hoping he hadn't left work yet. Good news, still at his desk and said he could come get me. Jeff works in Southfield and lives close to me so I am kind of on his way home.

Gerry calls back minutes later and I tell him Jeff is coming to get me. In the mean time I told Jeff I would meet him at Pinecrest and 9 Mile which was still a mile away. As I am walking a kid comes by on his sister's bike that was too small for him but he way carrying a 5 dollar pizza while riding so I was impressed. He asked what was wrong and then I explained to him what had happened. However I spent more time trying to explain to this 12 year old why exactly it was that I didn't have tubes in my tires in the first place. It was quite comical. In the end he kept me company for the walk and offered me a slice of pizza. We got to Taco Bell where I was suppose to meet Jeff and said he had to get home.

Jeff showed up at the Taco Bell parking lot minutes later and drove me home. Thanks man, I owe you one. So what's this sign I saw? The f-ed up rim. After weeks of not riding on that bike and to get it back and on my first ride biff the wheel. I'm done. No more trail bike riding this season for me. It'll take a couple weeks to get my wheel back from Stans......if I can come up with the cash to pay for another hoop. I'm strictly on the road bike now like I have been the past 6 weeks. No Triple Trail Challenge. No Massive Fallout. Done.

In fact the ending of this part of the story leaves me telling you that my car is still in Novi. That means I still need to get up tomorrow at 4am to be out the door at 4:30 so I can ride back to work on my road bike.

What will tomorrow bring. Tune in and hopefully it will be a better story. I have 3 road tubes left and I plan to pack them all.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

..................Space Available..................

Vacancy is a better way to put it. Man have I been out of the loop the past 4 weeks. So far out in fact that I had to consult my training log to find out when I was last on a trail bike.....September 9th to be exact. That morning I was on my SS at Maybury with Tim Storm and Brian McCabe. I flatted the first lap and had to walk back to the car for a tube. Once back to the car I had lost intrest in riding that morning, pulled my beach chair out, turned the car radio on and waited for Tim and Brian to come back. My Kona was in process of getting new tires from a sidewall blow out the previous week. Brian had loaned me his rear wheel of the Giant to race the Relay and I gave it back a few days later figuring I'd have my wheels back by then. I was kind of done with flats that morning and decided to chill for while in the morning sun.

Well, here we are 4 weeks later and my Kona is still upside down in the basement without a rear wheel. Gerry had laced a new set of tires on for me weeks ago only to have the rear one go flat and lose it's seat that afternoon in the car. I gave it back to him because I couldn't get it to sit again. He has yet to solve the issue and in the mean time I have been spending a lot of alone time with my road bike. As it turns out tho I really haven't had time to ride on the trail anyway and Gerry has been busy as well. I don't blame him at all for my lack of trail miles....I told him I was in no rush to get it back. But hopefully I will have it back by Monday because I'dlike to get out and ride the trail once before the Triple Trail Challenge on September 13th.

Yes Brian and I plan to go out and attempt a 50 mile ride on the 13th. It's the only day of the year that certain sections of trail are open to bikes in that area. We don't plan to try and ace it. Just plan to have fun, enjoy the cooler weather and take it all in.

More importantly I want to say I missed the big write up of the Maybury/Pontiac weekend. I had a lot going on so I was not able to make either race but even finding time to write about it was hard. So I apologize to all who raced, especially Jeff because he pulled off a win in the Men's Expert 30-39 at Pontiac that Sunday. That's not an easy thing to do. I guess he was in 3rd or 4th going into his third and final lap of a 30 mile race and just all of a sudden woke up and tore up the trail on that last loop. Wish I could have been there with him. His inspirational third lap may have pulled me up the podium. Oh well, we will never know, but a big Congrats to Jeff for his second Tailwind XC Series race win of the year. For those keeping track he won the XC Stage on the second day of the Brighton Stage Race beating out some stellar competition. This does bring up a question tho: Will Jeff Socia go Elite next season?

This weekend is the last Tailwinds XC race for 2008. Hard to believe it's already here. Haven't got the complete list of racers confirmed for this weekend but check back next week. Hopefully I won't slack anymore and get back in the game.

Keep air up in your tires and your fingers off the brakes, this weekend's venue is a fast course.


Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Storming the Fort

Sadly only two of our crew made the trip for the Time Trial at Fort Custer last weekend. But Gerry and Heather managed to con someone into joining our team. They even had a jersey for her to wear. Who is this girl? All I know is her name is Kathryn Junes and she kicked butt in the Sport Women 25-39 Class. She placed 3rd out of 7 with a time of 1:23:17. Yep, she knows how to collect the hardware. Welcome to the team Kathryn!!! I keep telling everyone we have some fast chics and Kathryn can back up my smack talk so she's okay by me.

Next up, our featherweight favorite, Hollywood Patterson. It was business as usual for Heather in the Women's Expert/Elite Category. Go to the race, kick some ass, beat half the men out there and then have a chicken sausage. Heather took second, losing first by 0.908 seconds (yes that decimal is in the right place). Her finish time was 1:12:06.393 and Chenoah's time was 1:12:05.485. The two of them smoked the rest of the class by 4 minutes. With that second place tho Heather finished the TT series 4th overall which is great in my opinion for her first year in Expert/Elite. Great job Hollywood!!!

For our Captain it was business as unusual in Sport 40-49. He decided to race his Giant with the new Stans Crow tires that he had only tested once earlier in the week. I am not going to argue with him..I built a bike the night prior to the Tree Farm Relay and raced it untested. Sometimes you just need to go with your gut right? Well Captain Terror went with his gut feeling before the race and mounted the wheels with the Crow tires.....while downing a ham sandwich and a beer (his new pre-race ritual) Well the combination of birds, pigs and brew seem to work for our highly undecorated leader. He handed out a good old fashion butt whoopin' to his class - 1st out of 10 -with a time of 1:09:08.866!!! Lets all give him a pat on the back net time we see him. Great work Captain!!! I'd also like to point out he beat a Team Active racer by over 10 seconds. For those who don't know the Fort is Team Active's home course. (But don't tell them the Fort is the Capatin's home away from home)

So that's 3 riders and 3 medals. We may have not have sent the entire calvary out to the Fort for battle but the ones who showed up were riders who could get the job done and step up to the podium. Again, welcome Kathryn and great job the 3 Musketeers who braved the Fort.

Also like to give a shout out to Joey "The Kid" Patterson. I heard he ripped it up out there on the kids course for the Specialized Kid's Race. Hopefully I will be able to get Ashton out to Pontiac and Stony so Joey can have some team company at the starting line.

This week the team moves back east for the Matybury TT on Saturday and the Pontiac XC on Sunday. Unfortuntaely I will not be able to attend either of these but I'll be ready to recap come next week. So as always, check back to see how we faired.

Monday, August 4, 2008

The Thin Yellow Line

The title makes sense actually. The Tree Farm Relay was this week's race. Originally I had a vision of having 3 teams built to compete in the Tree Farm Relay, all racers. Well the week leading up to the race we only had 3 racers total. Not even enough for a whole team. I got a tip from a friend on a rider looking to race who could turn some quick laps. Ends up Brian and I had met Jeremy before at Maybury and I was confident he would get the job done.

The day of the race was here. The forecast called for perfect weather. It hadn't rained in Novi all week, there was hardly a cloud in the sky and the high for the day was suppose to be 81. It's about damn time we didn't have to race in the rain and mud. Altho the weather was good and trail was prime I was still a little uneasy. Four riders and 80 Miles to cover. I had been pondering a line up all night...would it work? I wasn't sure. I'm a competitive person and even tho I was looking to come and have a good time I wanted to fly the team colors to victory. What helped settle me down was that I knew I had brought three things that no other team had......Dawn, Brian and Jeremy. I had three solid riders on my team who were loaded with determination. Sure we all joked around all morning and inflated each other's ego but inside we all knew we had a job to do that day.

Brian and I had competed in this race two years ago and Jeremy raced there last year. In fact Jeremy was the lead off man on his team last year and had no arguments about leading the team off for us. Being the lead off for your team in this race is a big responsibility. Not only is your team relying on you for a good start you have to do a Lemans start. That means Jeremy had to run down a sled hill to his bike, hop on and try and beat everyone to the single track. Check this series of pictures out:

Jeremy got the job done. He mounted that horse like a UCI Cyclecross Pro and lead the pack of riders into the single track. Unfortunately he forgot to release the lock out on his shock and took a tumble down the trail later on in the loop. Even with the fall he came around with a solid loop time of 46:21 and we were in third place by 10 seconds. We opted to run Jeremy as a sprinter he only did one loop and Brian was warmed up and ready to go as he came around.

The hand off was made and the master of the Novi Tree Farm, Brian, was off and riding. Team Business Class was 4 minutes ahead of us and BiciLibre was about 2.5 minutes ahead of us when Brain stared his lap. Brain was unsure about doing two consecutive laps so we made sure to have Dawn ready to go after Brian's first lap. But you all know Brain, when it's time to get the job done he doesn't rest until all his work is complete. Brian "The Wrench" McCabe pulled a 45:37 for our second loop and held pace with BiciLibre while gaining 40 seconds on Business Class. As he came around Brian waved off a water bottle and told us he wasn't done hunting yet.

I knew this is when we would start to hit Sport class traffic so I was glad Brian went around again. dawn had never ridden this course and my main objective was to get her open track so she could concentrate on doing what Dawn does best....go fast. Brian came around after another flawless loop and turned a 47:23. That was a solid time for dealing with traffic and being a second consecutive loop. Brain had put us a minute behind Business Class but BiciLibre had sent out a sprinter and they opened up their gap on us to 6 minutes. However Brain had put the 4th place team, Flatlanders, 4 minutes behind us.

So enters Dawn. She took off into the unknown without hesitation. We informed her about the few obstacles she'd need to watch out for but of course she wasn't worried about any of them. We told her we'd have Jeremy ready to go after her first lap if she wanted to exchange. We watched the clock and placed bets on what her time would be. Dawn did a flying lap at 49:53 and surprised us all. Jeremy, Brian and I knew we had a ringer on our team and that ringer was Dawn. Even after doing a trail marathon in Vermont the previous week she showed up to race...and to win. Now we were all pumped. We had the fastest girl at the Farm.

Dawn came in for the exchange and Jeremy was off into the wild again for his second lap. The guy has so much power it seemed to only take a couple pedal strokes to get up to race pace. He was out to show us again that he was willing to suffer for the team. Dawn had held us steady and Jeremy knew he needed to give his all. He gave everything he had to close the gaps on the teams in front of us. Again traffic was getting thick but Jeremy still pulled a 46:58 . He held the 1 minute gap to the second place team and decreased the gap to the first place team by 2 minutes. We were now only 4 minutes out of first.

As Jeremy came around I was twitching and ready to go. Brain and Dawn were there with me keeping me calm and getting me ready to attack. As Brain kept track of the clock I made mental files of who was lapping by and what class they were in. There was going to be a lot of traffic but I knew I needed to make a clearing for Dawn. I got the hand of from Jeremy and off I went. I was in full race mode and planned to be in the red for at least the first 5 miles. It was the start of lap 6 and we were the only team to exchange riders. I knew the two out in front of me were on their second loop so they would be a tad slower. As I rode I picked off Sport riders one by one. Knowing the trail really well I was able to make a lot of clean passes without sacraficing to much time.

Then I saw Business Class about 4 miles into the 10 mile loop. I called the pass and the rider let me go by without issue. We were in the single track so I kept my focus and followed all the lines Brian had taught me. I still needed to put time on this rider and catch BiciLibre. About a mile later I saw the jeresy in a switchback. I was gaining on the rider! I caught BiciLibre about 6-7 miles into the lap where the two track was. As we both made the turn onto the two track we were out of our saddles and fighting. Brian had told me the two track was lengthy so I tucked behind the BiciLibre and drafted the entire time. I saw the sign coming up "Tight turn ahead" and that means it was time to make my move. I called the pass and entered the single track in front. This is the tightest part of the trail and I spent the rest of the lap pretending Brian was chasing me....he doesn't make mistakes there and if I pretended like Brain was chasing me down I knew it would help me focus.

I came around and saw the team out there at the exchange. I was up out of the saddle flying across the field wondering what to do. Should I hand off to Dawn so she doesn't have the pressure of the last lap? Should I keep going because I was in a groove? Most of the Sport riders should be done by now...there's not much traffic and as I looked at my clock I was going to lap at 44:10. If I stop now then Brian would have been the only rider to do consecutive laps and he'd never let me hear the end of it. I put the hammer down and went back on the attack. I figured we were in first and it was now my job to create a gap for Dawn. I didn't bother to look back to see how close the other teams were. I kept my eyes focused in front of me. The track was clear so it was my race to lose. I figured if I gave Dawn a 5 minute gap she would have the cushion to take on anything the other teams would throw at us. I knew the other two teams were exchanging to fresh riders so I would have to get back into the red to make sure they don't catch site of me.

I nailed the single track and made it out to the two track. I looked down at my mph and realized I was going to slow. Brian would be disappointed with me right now. Out of the saddle I went. My legs were burning but my drive kept me moving. I repeated the words, "No pain" in my head until I was back on the single track. The team knows we are in first and they are counting on me. Out of the single track and onto the field to the exchange I see Dawn ready to go. Brain and Jeremy are down there with her. I lapped at 44:53 but had no idea how far ahead of the other teams I was. Brian was on the job tho watching the clock as I was regrouping and catching my breath. As Dawn entered the woods all we could do was watch the clock and see if I had did my job and created a big enough gap for Dawn.

As each minute passed without a rider coming out of the woods for their final lap we felt better and better. Finally Business Class came out to lap and Brain clocked them at 5 minutes and 23 seconds behind Dawn. BiciLibre wasn't far behind them, a little over a minute. It was then that we felt confident that we would win. If Dawn pulled another 50 minute loop we'd be set. We knew she'd be faster this time tho because she had been on the course once earlier in the day. A part of me felt guilty putting the outcome of the day on her shoulders but I knew she has nerves of steel and could handle the pressure. She is Dawn after all. She does her best work when the odds are stacked against her.

Dawn beat all the odds and came out of the single track onto the open field at a punishing pace. She came in with a lap time of 49:11 and blew Business Class out of the water by over 5 minutes. BiciLibre had run out of gas and Dawn had put another 3 minutes on them. Team took home the win with an incredible run. Not only did we win the Advanced Co-ed by 5 minutes we beat all but one of the Men's Advanced teams. Our total time for the 80 miles was 6:14:28.

Job done! I want to say thank you to Brian, Dawn and Jeremy for all the hard efforts they put out there on the trail. I had a great time and the win made it that much better. The team did a great job of being ready at each lap and taking care of the riders going on and off the trail. Of course this means we'll have to return next year to defend our title.

In other news: Heather made the trip to Big M for the Tailwinds XC race. She came in at a solid 3rd place in Women's Expert/Elite. Once I talk to her I'll post up more info about her day.

This weekend Jeff heads to the U.P. to take on the annual Ore to Shore. Check back next week to see how he did.

Sorry this was a long one but when you win a race it deserves a good write up.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

One for the kids

What a beautiful day for I saw. Even after Sue asked me again if I wanted to race the Time Trial at Stony Creek this past weekend I again declined. Sunday the 27th was the annual day I take my son Ashton to race for his special race day. Sure he comes to my races, watches me race and then gets to race himself. But this is the second year in a row we go just for him...the whole day is his day and he is the center of attention. This way my pre race, race and post race don't cut into his ride time. Even my 2 year old daughter Abigail was there to support Ashton.

Man did he do great. When the announcer asked which kids wanted to do 2 laps Asthon stepped his bike up to the front of the line. What a race! Ashton and many of the other kids had pre road the course like 15 joke. So when it came time to race they had all the turns memorized and they were ready to roll. The first wave of racers we the 2 loop riders. My son Ashton and John Osgood's son Noland (Team Sandbag) were among that race. The two of them rode a fantastic race and got their medals and fruit snacks at the finish line.

Mike's son Zak and his nephew Brendon raced the second wave with the 1 loop kids. Man did they rip it up out there in true Time Trial fashion. All the kids were out of breath and ready for thier medals and snacks at the finish. This was one of the biggest turn outs I have ever seen for the Specialized Kid's Races that are held at all the Tailwind events. It was great to see so many kids and parents there to show what the future of our sport will be like. I don't have any pix from this race but I will post some of the kid's past races soon.

Oh yeah, and the adults raced to:

Scotty - 58:48 - 5th place
Mike - 59:53 - 15th place
Darlene - 2:01:03 - 13th place
Gerry - 58:14 - 11th place (fastest team time of the day)
Jeff - 1:25:22 - 16th (broke his peal in the first few miles)
Joey - 2:41:12 - Yes folks, Joey did the adult course. Way to go!!!

This weekend we'll be covering two events. Jeff and Heather will continue their hunt in the points race by going to Big M for more race action in the Expert and Elite Classes this Sunday. Dawn, Brian and Aryn plan to race locally at the Novi Tree Farm Relay this Saturday.

So check back next week to see how everyone did.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

5 down, 3 to go.

Wow what a team turn out! 10 racers total for the 5th USAC race of the year at Ruby Campground just west of Port Huron. The course lap is about 5 miles long but throws everything at you. Steep long climbs, long deep water crossings (30 feet long), a lot of bridge work along with some great tight sections. Sounds fun doesn't it? Well try doing it while it is raining. Yep, another USAC race and more rain. Most people ran the water crossings because the water was over the knees this year and the current was crazy. The climbs were even harder than normal due to traction conditions be low. Lots of clay on this course.

For Jeff, Heather, Dawn and myself conditions were the worse. We had heard of riders trying to pre ride certain section and crashing in the process. It was raining when we were at the starting line so the whole first lap everyone spent learning. It wasn't until the 4th lap that I noticed a traction difference. I have never had to run my bike so far in a 20 mile ride before. The steep parts of the climbs seemed to hook up great but it was the switchbacks that made you dismount, put the bike on the shoulder and start running. After the first lap you knew exactly where you had to dismount. On lap 3 and 4 I dipped my bike in the water as I ran across just to wash off the brakes and derailluer. This by far beat out the mudfest we raced last year at Maybury.

Luckily for the Sport and Beginner classes the rain had stopped earlier and the sun was out so the course was drying. Riders were still running up hills and sliding back down them but at least the flats were dry and they were able to carve the single track more then us.

My family and I stuck around to cheer everyone one and also to be available to help with anything needed. I am pleased to say that even with the amount of crashes we included.... we had no major injuries and everyone finished at least one lap. It was a tough day to race and it was great to see that we had such a big turn out of team riders and the level of determination was huge. Even being sick Jeff showed up to race and braved the conditions. Darlene gave it a shot and completed a lap. Pretty ballzy for only being her second actual race. The brat pack of Amber, Scotty and Alex all rode strong and showed what the future of Team is all about. Despite a few minor incidents Mike and Gerry rode some consistent laps. Heather and Dawn did their normal damage to themselves and their class standings. Me, I was in my normal attack mode and did what I could with the conditions I had.

Here are the official results:

4 lap Racers:
Heather "Hollywood" Patterson - 2:39:08 - 3rd place Women's Expert/Elite
Dawn "U-Dog" Nicholas - 2:24:39 - 2nd place Women's Expert/Elite
Jeff "Sick-Boy" Socia - 2:19:29 - 11th place Men's Expert 30-39
Aryn "Nicknameless" Pongratz - 2:06:22 - 7th palce Men's Expert 30-39

3 Lap Racers:
Scotty "How's my Hair" Smiddy - 1:40:56 - 4th place Men's Sport 15-18
Alex "The Kid" Lanstra - 1:46:41 - 6th place Men's Sport 15-18
Mike "Tree Hugger" Keysaer - 1:48:14 - 9th place Men's Sport 30-34
Gerry "Where my Beer" Heath - 1:46:40 - 6th place Men's Sort 40-49

2 Lap Racer (Turned 1):
Darlene "Where's the damn finish line" Herrick - 1:07:37 - 3rd place Women's Beginner 30+.

1 Lap Racer:
Amber "Amber Alert" Smiddy - 45:03 - 1st place Women's Beginner 14 and Under.

A few others I'd like to mention:

Todd Powers from Team Sandbag. 3rd place Men's Expert 30-39 with a time of 2:00:32. Todd rode a rock solid race to put himself on the podium of his home course. It was great to see him up there, he rode hard for it and has worked hard all season to make that happen. Only two other riders in the entire Expert Division posted faster times than him.....that's something to writ home about. Great work Todd!!!

Just like old times Brad Lako and I were out there on lap 2 and 3 battling for position. Brad did some great riding and his trail sense and bike handling abilities really shined Sunday. Even after I managed to pass him he keep the pressure on really hard thru the rest of the race. We have been at it for three years now and it's always good to see him at the starting line.

Last, big props to Team Sandbag for hosting a great race. Thanks for all the hard work getting the trail ready. These guys and girls are top shelf, a great team to hang out with and do a great job hosting an event.

Good job to everyone who raced and A HUGE THANK YOU to our supporting cast on the side lines. The cheering section and race support is always a big lift for the racers when we are out there suffering.

Next stop, this Sunday for the Stony Creek Time Trial. Get out those road legs people. It's going to be high speed fun on the dirt this weekend.

Keep your determination high and your head down (you'll be more aero that way)


Thursday, July 17, 2008

Being willing makes you able

What an exciting couple of weeks it has been. 6/28 - 7/6 I basically went nuts with the family out of town and did 200+ trail miles. The cool part was that half of those miles were done with Brian and we were able to travel and change up venues, even made it out to Pontiac. The really cool part is that I got a front row seat to Brian taking flight over his handlebars. In all my years of riding this is the first doumented trip of Brian going over the bars. I joke about it because he is okay and it wasn't a huge crash. Just a case of not having enough speed to clear a log pile....and for record it was a large log pile and he bit in on the way dwn the opposit side.

Next up was my trip to my cottage in Canada. Was nice to get away and relax after all those miles on the trail. I gave myself a few days of rest and then took to the Canadian hills for a few rides on my road bike. Up there you are either climbing a hill close to single digit speeds or you are decending a hill at 35+ mph. Reaching over 40 mph is not uncommon even when you are not pedaling. I decended at over 50 mph once last year. Not sure how i feel about that. I have found that 45 mph is my comfort limit. Any faster and the wind in my ears gets to loud and I start to wonder what would happen if I punctured a tire while going that fast.

After returning to work and talking to Captain Terror I got the low down on the Boyne Marathon.Jeff, Scotty and Alex were the only ones who made it up there for the event. Jeff pulled down a 3rd place medal is Expert Men's 30-39 with a time of 3:58:11. Alex won the Beginner Men's 15-18 with the time of 2:33:59 and Scotty unfortunately did not finish. Word is an injury from earlier in the week flared up and caused him to stop. Hopefuly some rest time will help him heal and get him back out there soon. I am not sure of the lengths everyone did in terms of miles but I do know Boyne is known for it's abnormally large hills and this course is not for the weak. Great job to all three who made it out there to race. Three racers and two medals, that's awesome. That means again Team was announced over the loud speaker after the race.

Other honorable mentions: Chris Maltby from He races Expert Men's 30-39 but does it on a single speed. I narrowly escaped him at the Stony Marathon a couple weeks back and he was only 5 minutes behind Jeff at Boyne finishing 4th. You are crazy Chris! My boy Brad Lako from Flying Rhinos made the trip out to Boyne as well. Unfortunately he broke a pedal early on in the race and had to throw in the towel. I feel for you brother. I have been racing against Brad for 3 years now and he has always been a great opponent. He and his wife recently had thier first baby but he is getting back on the saddle so look out for a late season surge from him.

This concludes this weeks reviews. Next up is the Ruby Campground XC this Sunday. Approx 5 Mile loop with some good climbs, good flow and 2 water crossings. This is always a fun race and from the sounds of it we will have a great team turn out. Highlights for the coming weekend event:

1 - The Brian vs Gerry battle.....who will triumph at Ruby, the tortoise or the hare?

2 - The Aryn vs Jason (RBS) battle......Jason plans to unveil some new components this weekend but does he know Aryn made some drivetrain changes for the coming weekend?

3 - My son Ashton may decided to race his new 18" wheel's got hand brakes and pegs.

4 - The Amber Alert 2008 debut......will Amber race this weekend?!?!

Tune in next week to hear the exciting conclusions.......

Keep your head up and the tires floating...we have some deep water to cross this weekend.


Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Yellow Reign

It seems as if the rain will not let up. It feels like we have had a rain shower every day in the month of June. From drizzles to wicked thunder storms that knocked out power all over and had people going for a week without it. Yet the Stony Marathon was approaching and the forecast called for more rain come race day. When I woke up on race day and looked out the living room window all I saw was wet ground. It was 6:00 am, 4 hours until Robert would give the, "Have a good ride guys. About 10 seconds until you go."

I packed up the car and headed over to pick up Austin. He was going to play a huge support role for us along with my parents. This was going to be a long race and we needed bodies at the tent to pass bottles and help out racers if they had to pull in on the laps. We got there with about 1.5 hours until the start. We set up camp next to Team Fraser and Team Sandbag flanked us from the south side. We were in good company and they had experienced support crews so it was a good relief to know we would have all kind of help.

Enduro, Hollywood, Ice Man, Endoboy, Captain Terror and I were the team roster for the day. It was a NORBA race so we would be hunting for points. Best 5 finishes would go toward our team total for the season. We knew the course was not going to be kind due to all the recent rain. A 10 mile loop that had some good climbing, winding single track and some open two track to flex your road legs a little. Mike, Gerry and Brian were there to race the Sport category that would have them out there doing circles for 40 miles. Heather would be going up against her rivals for 50 miles in the Expert/Elite Women's Class. Jeff and I were looking down the barrel of a 60 mile race in less than favorable conditions. We all seemed pretty much at ease but we all knew that mud and rain can break a bike at any time.

Close to start time we all lined up in our respected classes. All levels of riders would be going off top to bottom at 10:00 in 2 minute intervals. Jeff took a spot in the front row with his normal pack. I lined up in the second row right behind him next to a racer I know from RBS. I knew him and I would be pacing together so it was a good place to be. I looked over my shoulder before the start to see if I could see any of the team in the river of racers behind me but had no luck. All of a sudden it was go time.

The pace was quicker than what I expected for the start of a 60 mile race. I hung to the back of the pack making sure not to get dropped. I could see Jeff and he looked like he was where he wanted to be. Jason, from RBS, and I rode most of the first loop together with two other guys in our class. Upon finishing our first loop I noticed Jeff was maybe 15-20 seconds ahead of me. At first I thought something was wrong but as I lapped and looked at my time I knew something was wrong. I was pacing out way over my head. I needed to slow down if I was going to survive. The course was bad . Standing water on the two track, muddy corners in the single track and the section they added to reroute a really bad area.....was 6 inches of tire spinning mud for about 100 meters. But things could be worse. It could have been snowing and in the 30's like it was just over 2 months ago for the first race of the season. Maybe I shouldn't complain.

The second lap I had put some space between Jason and I and came across a mix of racers here and there but it seemed a lot of riders were scattered. No groups forming pace lines on the flats like I expected. Near the end of lap 2 I really didn't have anyone around me.

Lap three was a little more eventful. I stated to pass a couple riders but I got passed from behind by some of the 40+ Experts. Man were they moving. Thought it was crazy how fast they were moving...kind of like they were time trialing. that train was moving to fast so I kept my own pace and finished lap three.

On the start of lap four I was feeling well still and mentally alert. The bottle hand off's went smooth and I was getting a second wind. The mud didn't seem to be getting any better but the scattered rain had finally stopped. The open two track was starting to take it's toll on me. From being so wet your tires just sank as you rolled along. There was no easy section to rest on the entire 10 mile loop. As I came across the end of lap 4 I notice Mike was at the back of the tent. he looked okay so I thought it was either a bike issue or he was just refueling. Ends up I was wrong. Mike had made it 30 miles but had to throw in the towel. He had bad cramps in his legs and didn't want to push it any more. After the race I found out this was happening a lot, even to the upper class riders.

Lap 5 I started to catch Beginners and had to do some fancy passing in the single track. I was also starting to notice that a lot of the guys who went out fast in the beginning were starting to blow up. I was finally passing more Expert riders altho I had no idea what class most of them were in. As I came around to finish lap 5 Brian was there cheering me on as well as Gerry and the support crew. The encouragement was nice to hear even if it made me throw a bottle at Brian for his smart @ss comments : )

Lap six....I had no idea what place I was in but was happy the Elite racers didn't lap me. The sun was out and it was starting to get humid. No worries, only 10 miles to go and the bike was still shifting well. I forgot to mention I was racing a new hartail but more on that later. 10 miles, that's all. Well it was a hard ten miles. The single track was starting to take a toll on me and I could feel my pace dropping. My arms were tired and I just wanted to be back on the two track to rest them. As I came closer to the last big climb about a mile from the finish I stared up that hill and told myself this was the last time I had to climb it today. I geared down and made it up no problem. I could not see any riders in front of me and I had no threats from the back. I picked the pace up but did not push it to hard. I hadn't had any signs of cramping and I didn't want to encourage any.

My time was 4:35:15 and to my surprise I took 5th out of 13 in my class. My second podium finish in a row in Expert. I was pumped. I guess more guys from our class blew up than I thought. My lap times weren't as consistent as normal for me but I didn't have any major spikes showing. Jeff pulled a solid time of 4:23:43 and finished 3rd in our class. A solid ride and he walked away happy with hos performance.

Heather finished 15 seconds behind a podium spot with a time of 4:28:18, 6th out of 11 in her class. I didn't get a chance to talk to her much after but she seemed pretty up beat altho I know that 15 seconds will haunt her all season. Gerry said he went out to fast. Word is he basically collapsed at the finish line, fell over without even unclipping. I think he did it all for show tho. He likes to play the crowd. He did his 4 loops in 3:33:47 and took a top 10 in his class. That brings us to Brian, the man who was worried he may not finish. Well he made it the entire 40 miles and I'll point out he got Gerry by 5 minutes with the time of 3:28:35. That got him 4th in his class but I know he walked away with sme confidence. I think this performance is what Brian needed to get going this season.

All in all I am glad we had no bike issues, crashes or serious injuries. It was a rough day. I think the 78 miles I did at the 6 hours of Addison was easier than this race and that was 90% single track. I am proud of the whole team and all the others who attempted this race. So we scored some solid points for the team race series and brought home two more Expert level medals so Team was announced over the loud speaker twice. Great job to everyone and good luck to those going to Boyne for the Marathon on July 12th.

Keep you glasses clean and your derailluer shifting.


Friday, June 13, 2008

The I in T.E.A.M.

When I arrived Saturday morning at Brighton I realized there was an I in TEAM....that I was me. As far as I knew I was the only one there from the team for the first day of a two day Stage Race. Everyone knows I am not a sprinter but the 3 race, 2 day format for double series points sounded like fun. So after registration I wondered how I was going to pull off respectable times in a 6.5 mile Time Trial and an approx. 20 min Short Track race.

The events were suppose to start at noon. Close to 11:00 I called my wife to talk to my son and see how his baseball game went. It was the only one of the season I had missed. As I was talking to my wife again I saw one of our team jerseys on the other side of the parking lot. It was Dawn! Awesome!!! So Dawn and I set up camp around my van and went to work.

The TT was rough. Dawn had missed a trail marker and had issues with a broken pedal. She still pulled of a 4th place out of 9 racers but cold have had an easy 3rd if it weren't for the mishaps. What was funny is that tailwind had accidentally gave her a Men's Elite number so she went off in the middle of the Men's Elite Class. They even had her results listed under Men's Elite. I also had 9 racers in my class and somehow squeaked out of the TT in 4th place, much to my surprise. What I liked most about it was I got to go off by myself from the starting line instead of being paired up with another rider. It helped with my concentration right from the start. Torn Shirt wasn't as hard as I remembered it being but then again I was really focused and only tapped one tree. Not bad considering how tight that course was.

After the TT I had plans to go pre ride Murray Lake for Sunday's race but I got a little to comfortable in my chair. Dawn and I spent the afternoon hanging out with Team Sandbag and just shooting the breeze. It was hot so we stayed cool and conserved energy. Neither one of us had raced a Short Track Type race so we didn't know what to expect. Well the time came to warm up so we did some laps of the course. The start was crazy, they lined up the entire Expert and Elite Class, men and women, and let us all go off at once. Talk about a mass start! What a fun race tho. 8 laps around this grass course and it felt more like a road crit race. Drafting was important as well as riding with a pack if you could. Dawn pulled off another 4th in her class and so did I. I would go into more detail but this is going to be long enough as it is. So Saturday's races were over and Dawn and I were happy with how we finished despite the heat and a few mishaps.

Sunday morning as I was driving out to the race I was feeling really good about sitting in 4th place for the weekend so far. However, I knew Sunday was the XC and they allow racers to just do the XC so most likely there'd be people racing on fresh legs. Altho I don't agree much with this rule there was nothing I could do about it. For some reason I still felt like I had an edge. Heather, Kathy and Joey showed up just after I did and Jeff wasn't far behind them. Brian was on his way but Gerry wasn't going to make it because Amy had sprained her ankle the day before.

During the first 5 minutes of my warm up I felt that edge I had going away. Man were my legs tired from Saturday but I needed to wake them up. My parents were coming to the race and bringing my son Ashton so he could do the kids race later in the afternoon. Well they got there just before my start time and seeing Ashton put me in a great mood. He gets so excited about racing and he wore off on me. Jeff and I went out first for the does this class start out fast. Sunday we had 14 guys in our class and 7 of them were on fresh legs. Jeff rode a solid race against his top rivals. For the first 3 laps he kept himself in the top 5. After the third lap going thru the exchange he dug in for a pass and overtook the class leader. He thought Nate would hold his rear tire so Jeff kept the rpms high for a couple miles and dropped him. I don't want to say he cruised to a victory but he was never challenged after that. Me, I started off into the single track 12th out of 14. But I kept my pace under control and picked off riders one by one. I passed a larger number of riders than I am used to in Expert but I know some of those guys were from classes in front of me. By the time I crossed the finish line I had clawed my way up to 5th place in my class. I was very pleased with that result and I rode fast enough to hold onto my 4th place in the overall standings.

Onto Hollywood. She busted out of the gates to pace herself with Karey and Erin. After the first lap she realized she couldn't hold that pace so she backed off the throttle a bit. She rode strong tho and fought thru the entire 30 mile course taking 3rd out of the 8 riders in her class. Unfortunately Dawn could not make Sunday's XC.

Next up, Manager McCabe. I say manager because the week prior to the race he was promoted from Senior Design Engineer to Engineering Manager within our company. Congrats Brian!!! Despite all the extra hours at work and lack of training time Brain still showed his team colors and came to race. His Sport 35-39 Class is always very competitive so I give him a lot of credit for coming out to race even tho his season started late. His laps times and finishing position weren't as impressive as last year but he still had a great time and I for one was happy just to see him out there. Racing without Brian around is like watching Top Gun without Iceman in it.

Well Jeff decided he needed to punish himself more so he signed up for Expert/Elite single speed. What's another 22.5 miles of racing after just completing 30 miles in Sarah Desert heat like conditions? At no surprise to me at all Jeff was able to finish top 5 in single speed and bring home another medal. When I was at the award ceremony for Expert/Elite to get my medal, they called for Jeff's 1st place in the geared XC. I told them he was out there racing in the Single Speed division. You should have seen the look on their faces. They asked if I wanted to get his medal for him. I said, "No, you'll be calling his name again during the Single Speed award ceremony."

Today was also going to be Joey's first big kid race. As soon as Heather got done with her nearly 3 hour race, she grabbed some grub and headed over to the starting line with Joey. His race was going to be one lap, 7.5 miles, in the searing heat. Well our Joey made us proud and never gave up. He rode to a fourth place in the Beginner Men's 11 and under category finishing his lap in 1:40:00. What a trooper! Great job on your first big kid race Joey!

Last, my son Ashton. He was excited to be wearing te new team jersey. Unfortunately due to my course laps being longer than expected I did not make it back in time to see him race. My parents said it was a heck of a kid's race tho. He had to do two laps of his course and they incorporated a downhill to the beach area and then he had to turn around and climb back up. He was so happy his race that we wouldn't get him to stop riding afterwards.

So in closing Team had a breakthrough weekend bringing home a total of 4 Expert/Elite Class medals and 5 top 5 finishes in Expert/Elite. We only got 4 medals because they only award medals to the top 3 in the overall standing for the entire Stage Race weekend. I was still happy with my 4th place in the overall but found out I was only 45 seconds out of 3rd place.

Next up, June 28th......the Stony Marathon.

(sorry this write up is a little more lame than normal but there was a lot to cover and I didn't want to make it to long)

Keep you head up and tires down.


Wednesday, June 4, 2008

She works hard for the money....dah dat dah dat...

Enough of my song and dance. Lets get to the point.

Okay kids, I know gas prices are thru the roof, your house is depreciating in value and you bring your lunch to work every day to try and save some cash but your grocery bill is up as well. Yep, this sucks. But hey, it could be worse. Yeah, you could have a serious illness known as Diabetes. Maybe you already do and you know where I am coming from.

I myself do not have Diabetes but I see it around me all the time. I'll keep this uncharacteristcally short and not lay a guilt trip on you...oh wait, I already did.....and say that I am just spreading the word for my favorite sister-in-law, altho the other sister-in-law is in a tie for first place. Anyway, she is riding in the Tour De Cure this weekend. Yes, the event me and some of my fellow teammates normally participate in every year. Well this year due to scheduling conflicts Team won't be pairing up with Coast to Coast but I am still doing my part to donate and help recruit others.

$5,$10, $20...hell, even the change in your car's ash tray will help. So if you are currently employed and can spare a few click on the web link and do a good deed for the day.

That's all I got.

Keep you head up and tires down.


Friday, May 30, 2008

A few too many

Gerry had brought his new Redline 26" fully rigid SS with him yesterday. He wanted to take it out to Maybury and see what it was all about. He asked me if I wanted to ride with him and switch bikes after 2 loops. He said he had brought his Giant and that I could ride that the first two loops while he rode the SS. After racing the Giant at Bloomer I was quick to reply 'yes' as I fell in love with that bike instantly. So here's the recap by loop:

Loop 1 - Something felt different on the Giant than when I was on it last. Plus I had to get used to the rear shifter being opposite from mine. Don't know how many times I missed a shift because I went the wrong way. Not a great warm up loop but we did a decent time. I pulled a high 31 and Gerry did a low 32 on the rigid SS. Great lap for him altho he was already praying for gears.

Loop 2 - Since Gerry wasn't having any issues on the SS and I was feeling comfortable now on the Roll X Pro D2 tires I decided to see how fast I could take the XTC around for a loop before I had to switch bikes with Gerry. I was impressed at how well that Giant was doing and I was moving pretty quick. At my first check point I was running a pace to make it into the 28 minute range. Well right before the first 'fluid spot' (place to get a drink) I came across a rider who had some minor bike issues. She looked a little puzzled so I decided to stop and try to help. She had lost a frame cable clamp and her rear brake hose was flapping in the wind. We tried various things to tie it back up but no luck. She said she'd just take it easy. By then Gerry had caught up and we proceeded down the trail. I had lost my rhythm so I backed off the pace and decided to just play around on the rest of the loop. Our times were comparable to the first loop.

Loop 3 - This is where it gets good. I was not on the SS and Gerry was on the Giant. He took point and I stayed on his rear tire most of the time. It was weird not having larger gears to go down hills with but climbing was no issue in the 32 x 16 set up he had on it. The rigid front fork and Maxxis tires made for some uneasy turning but I was getting used to it .. .. that is until I lost the front end in a routine left turn and laid the bike down. Gerry looked back and said "Don't scratch my bike!" Well about a mile and a half later after the 'fluid spot' Gerry was putting his bottle back in the cage when all of a sudden the rear tire flipped up and his head went straight for the ground. It was a hard endo.......very hard. The front tire never left the ground he never came unclipped. At one point he was in the negative fetal position. I am surprised he stood up so fast. After a few minutes of checking for broken bones Gerry said he was good to go, even after I offered to ride with him back to the cars via the paved road. We finished the loop but took our time. Gerry was done, understandable after that crash, and asked me what my plans were.

loop 4 - I said I was going to do more loops but not on the SS. I really didn't want to go back for my bike so Gerry gave me his Giant and said just to give it back to him tomorrow at work. Good enough, I had at least 2 more loops in me. So he rode off on the SS back to the cars and I took off down the trail. Felt great to be back on the Giant. Gerry had raised the seat a bit and the bike felt solid. I was zooming along pretty good but no record pace. Trail traffic was starting to get thick but all the passes were pretty clean. The front tire felt like it was a little low on air but I flowed pretty well. No major incidents. Ran another high 31.

Loop 5 - This was my third day in a row riding and I was starting to feel it after the first mile of climbs on this loop. Traffic was still heavy on the trail and it seemed like I was rolling up on people more frequently. About half way thru I came across a woman on a bike that was most likely bought at a place that also has automotive, grocery and clothing sections. Good for her for being out there tho. The trail was pretty wide at that point and plenty of room to pass. She moved over and I went off the trail to the left so she'd feel comfortable with the space. Well she must have hit something because all of a sudden she gave out an 'oh my god' and her bike was heading toward mine. We clipped handle bars pretty good but both managed to stay on our bikes. I completed the pass but slowed down to make sure she was alright. Things were cool, we both apologized like 10 times and then off I went again. Lap time, a low 32.

Loop 6 - Any other day I would have been smart enough to hang it up and head for the parking lot. What's one more loop tho? After the first 2 miles I had realized this was a bad idea. It had been a long time since I rode a hardtail this far and my body was starting to hurt all over. I wasn't bonking, I was just feeling the effects of the constant pounding and remembering why I loved my full suspension so much. I had a couple opportunities to turn off and head back but I was tough and was going to stick it out. Well my pace was dropping and I spent most of the time out of the saddle because my lower back was killing me. But then it happened, I heard some bikes behind me. I had went close to 36 miles and had not been passed by anyone. Wasn't about to let it happen then. So I grabbed a drink, gathered up all I had left and went on the offense. My legs were killing me and all I wanted was to be off the trail. My attack lasted two miles but I felt I had put enough gap on those bikes by then so I backed off the pace and cruised to the finish. Don't remember what my lap time was but I'm sure it wasn't pretty. Probably a 34.

So in the end my 6 loop time was around 2:25:00 and that included all the stops to switch bikes, work on bikes and evaluate crash victims. I had done that ride non stop a few weeks back and pulled a 2:10:00 and have done a 5 loop at 2:32:00 so this was way off pace for me. But it was a test day and I am glad I followed thru with the 6th loop no matter how bad it hurt. Good mental victory. Gerry is doing better and still plans to race this weekend.

So check back early next week for race results.

Monday, May 19, 2008

The Wheels go round and round....and around...will they ever stop?

The list of events you are about to read were all done on purpose. No accidential pain. No getting lost and doing more miles than we should of. No stunt doubles. This was all self inflicted and meant to be done.

The 6-12 Hours of Addison has come and gone. Tank, U-Dog, myself and two of our Macomb Bike and Fitness friends all partook in the event. Jeff, Tim and I all did the 6 Hour solo event. Dawn and Mike (Macomb Mike) did the 12 Hour solo event.

There's not much to talk about in one of these races. No epic high speed crashes. No sweet passing moves. No fighting off the start for a good position. No sprints to the finish. Everyone racing Saturday was going to be out there for a while so it was all about pacing. The course was 6.8 miles in length and reminded me of Maybury. No huge climbs just a bunch of smaller ones that seem to get bigger as your laps pile on. Roots, rock piles and some good flowing downhills. They did have some good bridge work. One in particular that took you over a long stretch of water.
So let us start with the person who covered the least amount of miles: Me. Weapon of choice, my only bike of course. But she got a few upgrades right before the race. XT shadow rear, Hayes carbon brakes and an new XTR shifter to mate the 1X9.

Along with Jeff I signed up for the 6 hour male solo 30-39. No classifications like Sport, Expert or Elite. We were all grouped together for the day. As it turns out this race attracted the biggest men's 6 hour solo 30-39 year old category to date, 17 riders total. Doesn't sound like alot but we all signed up so we all were missing a marble or two. My strategy was to do 4 loops, pit, do 4 more, pit and then finish it out. Things went well and I was able to stick to my plan. In the end I had only spent a total of 5 minutes off my bike for the entire 6 hours and some odd minutes and was able to rack up 11 loops for a total of 74.8 miles. That was far enough to net me 5th overall out of the 17. For my first endurance race I am more than pleased with that result.

Next up Jeff, who I am debating on re-nicknaming Enduro. His weapon of choice, his classic GT set up as a single speed. He raced the geared class tho thinking he may switch to his fully geared Giant. The Giant never left the bike rack though.

Enduro here lapped. My whole goal was to make sure that didn't happen and you can imagine how upset I was when I had 3 miles to go and I heard, "Mr. Pongratz!" shouted out from behind me. And the sick part was he dropped me on the next hill. But it was good for him and for the team. Jeff had completed 12 laps for a total of 81.6 miles and that was far enough to net him 3rd place. It's possible that Jeff actually took second place but the scoring wasn't that accurate and it was hard to argue so he let it go. The guy in question disputed the results before the award ceremony so we were surprised to hear Jeff get called up at third. He was still happy with what he accomplished for his first shot at endurace racing. And if he would have signed up for thre Single Speed division he would have won.

Next up, Wonder Woman. Her tool of the trade: Her new RM Team Element.
Dawn showed up us boys by entering the 12 Hour Women Solo. Talk about grinding it out. She went around so many times I thought the Earth's rotation was going to change. Dawn sat on her bike for a total of 16 that math and you'll find the sum to be 108.8 miles! C-R-A-Z-Y! She took first in her class, almost doing double of the girl that finished behind her. So why do I call her Wonder Woman? Well for a couple reasons. One because of what she did Saturday and two because of this video. Watch it to the end and you'll see Dawn and her black cape tearing up the trail.

Other honorable mentions is of our friends at Macomb Bike and Fitness, Tim Storm and Mike Belanger:
Tim raced the Men's 6 Hour Solo Single Speed. He racked up 10 loops for a 68.8 Mile tour on his Specialized and that got him 4th overall out of 9 in his class. Heck of a long way to go with only one gear. Mike took his Titus around for the 12 Hour Men's solo 40+. They had him listed as only doing 15 loops but he had recorded 17. The 15 loops were good enough for a 4th place finish but the 17 would have bumped him up to 3rd. I guess next year we need to find a better way to argue our results.

In the end I took no pictures of myself and we all had a good time with what we accomplished out there. Congrats to the riders I mentioned here and also to all the others who took to the trail in the event. I could go on and on about the teams I saw out there, young and old, and also the guy who did 14 loops for the men's solo 6 hours (95.2 miles!) but you'd be here all day reading this. All I can say is this race is worth putting on your calendar for next year.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Month #5

Another Monday closer to constant warmer weather. This back and forth stuff is getting old. But I'm sure when it's 90+ and the humidity is thru the roof we'll be beggin' for cooler air.

Brian "The Professor" McCabe is back in action after a little pause in the action. Rode with him last Friday and let me tell you how good it was to see him back in the saddle. The season doesn't feel the same when he's not around. He's the one that got me into this stuff and I know a few felt the team was a bit empty without him around at the races. Welcome back bro!

This weekend.....big happenings. Hollywood, Terror and Scotty are heading west to Fort Custer for the Xterra Tri. It's like a triathlon but the running and cycling are done on the trails instead of the road. It'll be the team's first appearance in one of these events so I anxious to hear about how their day goes. Of course I'll recap it next week.

Tank and U-Dog are heading north on Saturday for the 6-12 Hours of Addison. Should be a good event. This will b Jeff's first run at an endurance event outside the normal marathon races but I believe Dawn has done some of these before.

So come on back early next week for the write up. I'll do my best to get some pictures this time for those of you who get bored with all my blabing.

Off to bed, OLPD's tomorrow morning. Last tough ride before I start to taper for the weekend.. .. .. yep, if the weather holds up I'll be at the Starting line Saturday morning for the 6 hour event.


Wednesday, May 7, 2008

100% Whole Wheat

That's right folks, this site will be good for you. I'm hear to keep you regular.

"Dude, your team roster looks kinda small. What gives?" Well, ya'all are right. It's been a slow start to the season. So slow that Jeff is nearing his fourth race weekend and has yet to be photographed in the new uniform. He's got one last chance to sport the new drabs or I am going to rename him ReRun. For the rest of you, in order to get on the 2008 Team Roster part of this page you actually need to race some time in 2008.

So check back, check often because I plan to get the fire lit under this season. We can't let Jeff and Heather get all the team press. Let's gear it up people and go!

In closing, I have a quick Mike update. He's doing better and may actually go to work tomorrow. Hopefully we'll see him back in the two wheeled world soon. Rest up Endoboy!


Monday, May 5, 2008

Storming the Fort

The team took to the trail for the 4th weekend of racing this season. I didn't race but I thought I'd still do a recap. The venue was Fort Custer, widely known for it's Big 3 - Cardiac Climb, CPR and DOA. It's a 9 mile loop with some tech sections, some fast flats and the above mentioned category climbs. Elites do 4 loops, Expert 3, Sport 2 and Beginner 1.

We'll start with Aunt Darlene....I still don't have a nickname for her. (Free used chain lube to the best entry) This was her first actual XC race since doing the First Time Racer at Addison last year. Problem with Beginner women is the spread in age. She had no choice but to do the 30 year and over class. However, she still managed to beat up on a girl 15 years younger than her. Way to go Darlene! Doing a 1:11:14 your first race at Custer is great and I don't think there are any laws against putting the smack down on a girl that young in racing on the left coast.

While we are on the topic of fast women, let's talk about Hollywood. About an hour before her race she decided to take Terror's hardtail Giant for a spin. When she came back she said she was racing it. And race it she did! Hippy Chic here blasted thru 3 loops at a blistering time of 2:14:19 to claim 6th place in her field of Expert/Elite women. She was out there running with the big guns on a fast course and held her ground well. She actually finished 10 minutes sooner than I had predicted on Friday. She has this thing for liking to prove me wrong. Nice riding there Tex.

Let's keep on the subject of Terror's Giant. Much to my surprise he actually raced it, I think I owe Jeff money now. After me racing it at Bloomer last week and Hippie Chic racing it I think he wanted to feel for himself how fast his own bike actually was. Well he seemed to like it and he's walking around the office without his usual limp so I think he's hooked on the speed. Gerry fought his way to the top 50% of his class and finished with another solid 7th place this year in a time of 1:24:27. He was only 2 seconds out of 6th! He said the traffic was thick and if he would have went for the pass he would have caused another wreck. Yes, I said another wreck.

Keeping with my clever segways lets talk about Jeff and his Giant. It's like this course was designed specifically for him and his bike. Tank rode at break neck speeds for his Expert Class and came across the finish line 3rd out of 20 racers! Rumor has it that his chain never left the big chain ring the entire 3 loops, 1:52:32.....Damn that's fast........After he finished unleashing his wrath on the Expert field he went and got his other bike to try his hand again in the Expert/Elite Single Speed category. Yes folks, he decide to order desert and go out for 2 more laps of pain 30 minutes after finishing his first race with only one gear option. And guess what, he podiumed at 5th place out of 14 riders with a time of 1:17:45. Well done Jeff. Glad your on my team out there.

Well I am out of crafty ways to tie in my paragraphs and I still have one person left to brag about, Mike. He made his 2008 XC opener Fort Custer. Altho his end result didn't result in the resulted way he had planned it he still walked away with a good story to tell his grandkids and scare his own kids with. Front wheel issues plagued him his first loop. By the second loop he was off and moving to make up lost time. To make it short there was a secion of the trail where an Expert rider had broken his collar bone and Mike didn't want him to have all the Crash Press so he tried to one up him and Superman-ed over his bars. What goes up must come down and down hard he came. The word on the street is that Mike looks like he got into a bar fight and lost. Mike roughed it out tho and finished the race refusing to DNF. Shows how hard core he is!

That's the racing weekend in review. Mothers Day this coming weekend so there are no races scheduled. Tune in Monday the 19th for another edition of my bad grammer and spelling errors as I cover the 6-12 hours of Addison and the Xterra Tri happening on May 17th and 18th.

Until then this is Aryn saying, "Keep you head up, tires down and face off the ground."

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Chain Reaction

The second Tailwind USAC race of 2008 was last Sunday at Bloomer up in Rochester. The loop was just over 6 miles long and my Expert Class would be doing it four times. From what I heard the course was in great shape and ready to be taken advantage of. I had never raced there before but I got some information about the course from a few fellow riders. U-Dog, Hollywood, Tank and I all came out early due to our start times being close to 10 AM. Captain Terror and Bushwacker made it there to see us off.

Jeff and I started out a couple sets behind the Elites. I was sportin' the new race attire we got that morning but Jeff decided to do one more race in the old drabs since he already had it on.....superstition. At the start Jeff took off with the pack leaders as I expected him to. I tried to get myself into a good mid pack position with a couple other riders I knew I could hold pace with. Things went as planned for about the first 2 miles....after that it all blew up. I was near the top 10 of the class when my chain fell off. I had to step aside and let some riders though before I could start back up again. I spent the next half mile playing catch up only to have it happen again. I was starting to get frustrated. I got the chain back on and was trying to figure out my issue while I was trying to navigate a trail I had never been on before. Well about a mile later it happened again. Every time I had put myself back in the chase only to have my chain fall off again. Now I was in last and way back from the pack.

I still had about a mile and a half and could see a few riders a bit ahead of me on one of the long straights along the river. I talked myself into mounting another attack and took off only to have my chain slip fo the 4th time about 5 minutes later. By then my head was out of the game and I was ready to call it quits. I rode the last mile easy so the chain would stay on and I pulled into the pit after my first lap and called it quits. Gerry and Meghan were there and Gerry was trying to figure out how to get me back on the course. I told him my issue and said I can't race this bike today. So he got his Epic and said just go out on this to at least finish the race. But after we got it ready to race we found out I had the wrong cleats in my shoes to ride it and quit honstly the geometry felt wrong. Since he had me all fired up to go back out I told him to run back to his car and get his XTC. This bike had only been test ridden about 400 yards before down the street in front of his house. It wasn't complete and not ready to race. So we spent a few minutes getting it race ready including swapping parts from my bike onto it.

As I took off on it I realized I had a lot of work to do. The bike was a completely different set up than mine and I was in lap time was 9 minutes higher than I had planned it to be. So mentally I went into pursuit mode. I had done this before last year after a big crash in a race I wanted to win. I knew the frame of mind I had to be in. I refused to finish last. All I had to do was hunt down at least one person in my class. Plus Ashton's kid race started at 12:30 and I told him I'd be there for it. Can't let my son down.

I spent the next lap riding hard and pushing the limits on a bike that had never been on the trail before. Not the brightest idea but I had somewhere to be at 12:30. I felt I was making up ground. I started passing riders from other classes that started after mine. I knew I was getting closer. The third lap I ran into more traffic so I had to check up in a few spots and wait for room to pass. Finally by the last lap I had caught some people from my class and I wasn't in last anymore. I grinded out the 4th lap and ended up with a negative split from my third so I was happy with that. In the end I had made up a few spots and still managed to finish 14th out of 17. Sure it would have been nice to place in 8th or 9th like I wanted to but at least I finished with some points instead of a DNF.

Jeff ended up running a heck of a race. He finished 5th in our class but most impressive was his 8th overall in Expert. Seems we have all the speed in our class. Great riding Jeff!

Heather took home 4th and Dawn wasn't far behind finishing 6th in the Expert/Elite Women's class. Our chics are fast.

The Captain put in a solid performance and finished 7th out of 12 in his class. Not bad for an old guy.

And last the kids, Zak and Ash. They both did the 2 lap kid course and did the whole race without any help from the dad's. Zak has been off training wheels for almost a year but it was Ashton's first race without them. He did awesome! I am so proud of him.

In the end, I have some work to do on my bike. Luckily I don't race again until June so I have some time to test a few things to fix my bike.